$12 Special Event
Ben Russell & Ben Rivers in person
Sunday March 23 at 7pm
Directed by Ben Rivers and Ben Russell
France/Estonia/Norway/Finland 2013, digital video, color, 98 min
Over the past decade, Ben Rivers and Ben Russell have become known each for their distinct blends of experimental film, documentary and ethnography. The work of Rivers (b. 1972) has often focused on dreams of remote hinterlands and on non-conformists who seek to forge private kingdoms of their own. Meanwhile, Russell (b. 1976) has channeled the spirit of Jean Rouch, seeking the extreme and the sublime at raucous rock shows as well as in the desert and the jungle. A Spell to Ward off the Darkness is at once the joint project of two friends and the first collaboration between two rising stars of contemporary cinema. The film itself is a triptych of three complementary yet purposely distinct parts, tracing a trajectory through three distinctive spaces, whether rural or urban, primitive or modern. It is left to the viewer to make connections among the three sections, aside from the distinctive presence of artist-musician Robert A.A. Lowe (aka Lichens) in all three parts, acting as a guide inside the film for the viewer. Part trance film, part meditation, A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness can be seen as a synthesis of the work of its two directors, combining the haunting beauty of Rivers’ film with the hallucinatory charge of Russell’s. It shows both artists breaking new ground as they jointly grapple with the various kinds of utopia previously explored in their respective work. — David Pendleton
This screening is presented in conjunction with a series of events presented by the Film Study Center of Harvard, Balagan Films, the DocYard and Non-Event.
Monday March 24 at 7pm: The Shorts of Ben Russell and Ben Rivers at the Brattle Theatre. Tuesday March 25 at 9pm: sound + 16mm performance by Robert A.A. Lowe (of Lichens) and Ben Russell at Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge.
Special thanks: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ernst Karel, Cozette Russell – Film Study Center, Harvard; Jeff Silva, Mariya Nikiforova, Stefan Grabowski – Balagan; Sara Archambault, Ben Fowlie – The DocYard.